Rescue personnel add two new devices to aid patients

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Firefighter David Murray (second from left) explains the EZ-IO intraosseous infusion system, which allows emergency personnel to quickly drill into the bone to create a vascular line in an emercency situation when a vein is not immediately available. Sgt. Troy Petrovich (fourth from left) displays the drill while City Attorney Randall Pentiuk (left), Mayor Tim Durand (third from left) and Councilwoman Lynn Blanchette (right) watch during the Feb. 7 City Council meeting.

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – Rescue personnel here recently purchased two more tools to help them keep critical patients alive during transport to a trauma center.

The EZ-IO intraosseous infusion system quickly creates an emergency vascular line in a bone when a vein is not available. The second tool, a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAC, device, helps congestive heart failure patients with fluid-filled lungs breath and decreases demands on the heart.

The EZ-IO is a drill with a needle at the end of it that bores directly into bone to establish an immediate vascular line.
“The bone is very highly vascular where all the blood circulates, even more than your surface veins,” Firefighter David Murray said, “so this is a rapid access to your vasculature when we have no other means.”

He said that access is “quick and easy” and the fastest IV that responders can do. They typically put it in the lower leg, which allows them to administer cardiac and other medications.

Murray said the procedure reportedly is less painful than a peripheral IV, which is a catheter (tube) inserted into other veins not inside the chest or abdomen. Responders administer a numbing medication, however, so a patient will not experience discomfort when fluid is flowing through the line.

Emergency technicians will aspirate or pull some blood out of the marrow to make sure they are in the right spot, Murray said. They then flush the line with a numbing agent before administering the intravenous medication.

“This type of access has been documented (to provide) faster delivery to the heart, and the brain and major organs, quicker than a central line,” he said.

A central line is a catheter that is passed through a vein to end up in the chest, so that concentrated solutions like medications can be rapidly infused.

Murray said the EZ-IO comes in three sizes to accommodate children, adults and large adults.

The second lifesaving device, the CPAC, is disposable and hooks up to a portable oxygen tank.

The constant pressure of oxygen is used typically on a patient with congestive heart failure whose heart is not beating properly, which can cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs.

“What this does is basically pushes the oxygen into the lungs and displaces that fluid so the oxygen can get to the vessels and where it needs to be,” Murray said.

Murray said both pieces of equipment are helping emergency medical personnel make a “remarkable difference” in terms of saving lives.

He said they recently had a chance to use the EZ-IO for the first time, and although the “ultimate outcome” was not what they wanted, they did see some “positive changes” when they were working with the patient.

The EZ-IO is used as a last resort. EMTs say they prefer to work with a regular IV if they can.

“If, say, the tissue’s burned away or it’s traumatized,” Murray said, “if we have access to these bones, we go to it. This is not something that you would typically use on an alert, awake and breathing patient.”

“We’ve always been very proud of the work that the Riverview firefighters and rescue have done,” Mayor Tim Durand said at the Feb. 7 City Council meeting. “You guys have made some great strides in the services that you offer.”

Noting that responders are capable of complete life support, he said, “We provide the same services anybody else would do, and you would not just be getting a ride to the hospital, you would be serviced the entire time of your journey.

“We’re very proud of the great improvement that you guys have made and the upgrade in your status in what you guys do.”